What a night. No one said it better than Virginia Historical Society President Paul Levengood: "we reached back in time." Ardent's collaboration with VHS first began several months ago and culminated this Tuesday night with an evening to taste and learn about one very old beer that was written down by Jane, a young girl who lived on a local farm in the 18th century. If Jane only knew how her family's beer recipe would be revived and celebrated right here in 2014.
All of us at Ardent have been thrilled, and admittedly surprised, but the enthusiastic response from the local community and beyond. We've fielded all kinds of requests including one person asking to ship a keg of the persimmon beer to San Diego. What started as a modest experiment in historical beers appears to have sparked more than just our own interest in the region's beer heritage.
When we set out to make the Persimmon beer, we harvested as many Native American persimmons as we could find, traveling as far as Afton, Virginia to pick from trees. We collected about 17 pounds of persimmons which yielded about three gallons of beer. The final product - a wine-like, low alcohol beer intended for daily consumption - served as the centerpiece of Tuesday's "History On Tap." gathering.
Due to the limited quantity of the persimmon beer, we were welcomed about 70-80 people for a tasting and discussion featuring Richmond's resident beer and history expert, Lee Graves. Never had the taproom felt more alive and full of an excited history-and-beer-loving crowd. Thanks to the creativity and generosity of the Virginia Historical Society, we were able to share this unusual beer and its story, and we couldn't be more grateful for the opportunity.
According to Levengood, thousands of beer recipes exist in their archives. There's no question about the local interest in historical beers and we look forward to future collaborations with VHS. Finally, another big thank you to all who showed interest in the project and those who came out Tuesday in support of Virginia Historical Society's important work.
All photos by Mike Lee.